Water Is More Precious Than Gold
Speaking tour with Vidalina Morales de Gámez
March 11th | 7:00-9:00 pm
YWCA – 733 Beatty Street
Vancouver – Coast Salish Territories
On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/events/131516930359065/
Free Event – Accessible Space – Child Friendly
This event is being hosted as a part of an international speaking tour to highlight the dangers transnational mining companies pose to people, waters, and the environment.
Vidalina Morales de Gámez, is a member of the National Roundtable against Metallic Mining in El Salvador (the Mesa). Vidalina Morales is a mother of five children and has worked with ADES – Economic and Social Development Association of Santa Marta for over 10 years. She has worked directly on mining issues as an organizer in Cabañas communities since 2006.
Lolilta Chavez is a Maya-K’iche woman from the north-western highlands of Guatemala. She is a director of the K’iche Peoples Council and the Indigenous Women’s Network and works on issues related to indigenous rights, industrial development – including mining, forestry and hydro projects – and corruption. Lolita has received threats for speaking out in defence of the rights of Indigenous peoples in Guatemala. She is touring Canada and the US to expose the practice of criminalising dissent in Guatemala and will meet with NGOs, investors, unions and ordinary Canadians to share her story and stories of Indigenous peoples’ struggles to protect their rights and territories in Guatemala.
[ additional presenters to be confirmed ]
In 2007, when the Salvadoran government began to put restrictions on the mining industry, as a result of the efforts made by the Mesa and other members of civil society, two multinational mining corporations, Pacific Rim and Commerce Group, responded by filing lawsuits against the government. The companies claim that their rights as investors are being violated. Pacific Rim, a Vancouver based company looking to mine in the
department of Cabañas, is claiming losses of up to $100 million. On June 1st, 2012 a panel of three arbitrators hearing the case in a trade tribunal that is part of the World Bank ruled that the case would be allowed to continue. The controversy over Pacific Rim’s mining project in Cabañas has not come without a social cost. To date four environmentalists opposing mining from the region have been murdered, and countless others have suffered from threats, attacks, kidnapping attempts and violence. While the Attorney General’s Office in El Salvador has never done thorough investigations into the intellectual authors of the crimes in Cabañas, local residents say that community divisions and conflict started when Pacific Rim arrived and began promoting their mining projects.
The Mesa is fighting back against Pacific Rim and other companies in El Salvador by educating the population around the dangers of mining, carrying out scientific research to support their positions, and pressuring decision makers in El Salvador to protect the environment and public health. For the Mesa the only way to protect El Salvador from the problems caused by metallic mining is complete ban on all metallic mining.
As the debate around a mining ban continues in the Legislative Assembly, the communities and social movement continue to organize and struggle against this dangerous industry.
For more information please contact:
The tour is being organized by MiningWatch Canada, Council of Canadians, United Church of Canada, Mining Justice Alliance, Committee to Support Social Development in El Salvador (CODESES), KIAROS: Canadian Ecumenical Initiatives, Canadians for Mining Awareness, Natural Resource Council of Maine, Grassroots International, and the Institute for Policy Studies.